Israel is urging the Biden administration to go ahead with the sale of F-15 fighter jets to Egypt, Barak Ravid reported on Axios Wednesday night.
The McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle is a twin-engine, all-weather tactical fighter aircraft designed in 1969 to meet the US Air Force’s need for a dedicated air superiority fighter. The F-15 entered service in 1976 and has been one of the most successful modern fighters, with over 100 victories and no losses in aerial combat.
The majority of the F-15 kills have been by the Israeli Air Force.
Ravid argues that the Israeli lobbying efforts on behalf of Egypt show that Israel considers Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi to be a reliable ally and that it is invested in improving relations between Washington and Cairo. The Americans are forever concerned about the Egyptians renewing their ties with Russia, despite the annual military aid to the tune of $1.3 billion they have been receiving from the US since 1987.
In April 2019, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned Egypt against purchasing Russian Sukhoi Su-35, saying “We’ve made clear that if those systems were to be purchased, the CAATSA (Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act – DI) statute would require sanctions on the regime.”
Ravid cites Israeli officials who say the F-15 deal was first suggested last year when Egypt began to “rethink” the agreement it had signed with Russia in late 2018 for the purchase of the Sukhoi fighter jets.
According to Sebastien Roblin, writing for The National Interest, “the Su-35 takes the crown of best dogfighter, and also remains a very capable and versatile missile platform against both air and ground targets, though it is held back by its lack of state-of-the-art AESA radar. Current models of the F-15, however, remain capable air superiority fighters with advanced radar, while the F-15E can still carry greater weapons loads for ground attack. Upgraded F-15s would boast extraordinary air-to-air loads, and unparalleled data fusion with supporting ships, satellites, and aircraft. The Silent Eagle might also bring an intriguing, though limited, frontal stealth capability to the table.”
Unlike Israel, which doesn’t care much about the human rights records of the Arab regimes with which it is conducting seemingly ever-warming relations (those records are abysmal), both sides of the aisle in Congress insist the Biden administration condition the sale of military equipment to Egypt on its improving the human rights situation.
There are an estimated 60,000 political prisoners in Egypt, although the government denies it. Shortly after al-Sisi removed the democratically-elected president, the late Mohamed Morsi, and captured the presidency in a military coup, “The worst mass killing in Egypt’s modern history” took place in Cairo, on August 14, 2013, with hundreds of protesters getting killed by soldiers.
In late January, Secretary of State Tony Blinken announced he continued withholding $130 million from the annual US military aid to Egypt because the Egyptian government “failed to address the Biden administration’s concerns regarding human rights.”
Ravid cites a senior Israeli official who said Israel has been concerned for a long time about the strained Egypt-US relationship and thinks that strengthening and improving US-Egyptian ties is in Israel’s interest. The argument the Israelis have made to the Americans was that it’s better for everyone to have US weapon systems in Egypt instead of letting the Egyptians buy from the Russian or Chinese governments.